Like father, like daughter. My dad has always loved Paris. When I told him I was going there for a little getaway, he shared some foodie love by recommending me to go to Leon De Bruxelles. He was raving to me about this place that serves amazing mussels at a really affordable price, plus being situated at the famous street of Champs Elysees.
I had my doubts that the place would be a tourist trap as it’s on the Champs Elysees, not a nearby street behind it, but exactly on that main street. However, my immense love for seafood did come from him after all so if he approves, it should be fine. So despite my little internal debate, I suggested this to my friends and we made our way to the restaurant.
By way of background, Léon de Bruxelles is a restaurant chain that’s known for primarily serving moules-frites. Their branch at the Champ Elysees was a huge one. The setting, surprisingly, wasn’t very Parisian, which made me feel a bit nervous at first. It has more of a family diner-style instead. It was still early for dinnertime in Paris so it was quite empty when we went in. After we sat down and ordered a drink, we were served with mini pretzels to nibble on.
They have a pretty extensive menu, especially in terms of the selection of mussels dishes. There are the classic Moules & Frites pots, en papillotte, and mussels griddle (en la plancha) – each have a variety of options to choose from. Apart from that, you get a range of fish dishes and even classic meat dishes like steaks and burgers. The meats are not halal so we stuck with all seafood-based dishes.
Mussels with King Prawns and Calamari
My eyes immediately lit up seeing this on the menu. I simply couldn’t resist a seafood feast. My dad also ordered this during his trip and it’s the one he keeps recommending me!
The portion of this mussels / seafood pot was pretty huge. The mussels, wild king prawns and calamari rings were sitting in this fragrant seafood broth that’s made with tomatoes, garlic and mixed herbs. I have doubled checked with our waiter that there’s no alcohol involved in the cooking process of this dish.
The seafood was generally fresh and the broth’s very savoury. The flavours were pretty intense and incredibly delicious.
The mussels were quite meaty for French blue mussels. It was simply so satisfying when you scoop up the broth with the mussel shell and enjoy that burst of flavour altogether with the meaty flesh. The calamari was soft and tender – not at all overcooked to a chewy texture. Additionally, I was pretty impressed with the prawns. They weren’t super huge but definitely of a good decent size. Not only were they fresh but they also have a pretty good amount of shrimp roe concentrated at the head. Prawns that are cooked in whole are always more tasty as all the flavours get to be contained in one. Moreover, the head is where all the essence is concentrated at. But it’s even more of a bonus when there’s shrimp roe at the head to give that extra intensity of flavours.
After you’re done with all the seafood in the pot, there’s no way you should waste the remaining broth. The remaining broth was pretty concentrated and even more so intensified. Rice was served together with this mussels dish. It was nice and fluffy, and soaked up all that delicious flavours.
La Papillote de Moules au Saumon et Basilic
This actually came as a wrong order but we took it anyway. This dish involves mussels delicately cooked in papillote with salmon, basil and lemon. En Papillote means cooking in parchment. The mussels are wrapped into a folded pouch with all the ingredients and then baked.
It’s almost like a big ball of plastic bag being served on your table. Once we started unwrapping it, all the steam and aroma simply filled up our table. This dish actually has a more intense savoury flavour. The flavours are more simple but definitely more concentrated. The flaked up salmon added an extra layer of flavours to the dish. It is also served with rice, which really helps to soak up the remaining broth and to spread out the intensity of the original flavours.
This salmon dish served with rice and green beans. It’s funny how the amount of green beans served on the plate was so disproportionately large compared to the size of the salmon.
Like many other Parisian restaurants all across the city, the salmon is simply pan-fried. While I had my fair share of disappointments on pan-fried salmon steaks in the city, this one was decent. The salmon wasn’t overcooked (thank goodness), so it was really soft and smooth on the inside. I personally would like to see a crispier skin for the fish.
However I must say this dish was quite an anti-climatic one compared to the other two. The portion ratio just really threw us off and the dish in overall just wasn’t particularly outstanding.
…apart from that salmon dish, we were very happy with our meal at Leon de Bruxelles. The food was of good portion and the quality was lovely. Even better, it didn’t break our banks at all. Everything was an absolute delight apart from the setting which did bother me quite a bit before the food started coming in. But at the end of the day, good food is all that matters. If you’re looking for a casual spot for good food around the Champs Elysees, here’s one to check out without breaking the bank!
Leon de Bruxelles does not offer halal meats. Plenty seafood options are available – though please double-check with use of alcohol in cooking.
Tel: +33 1 42 25 96 16
Nearest Metro station: George V